Monday, October 22, 2007


Welcome to my messy studio! I've spent the past few days framing paintings for my solo show at Angler Art, and I think I've officially run out of room in my house to place the finished paintings.

A while back (like, a really LONG while), Shan asked me to talk about some of my wholesale framing sources, and I figure now is as good a time as any to discuss framing, since I'm up to my ears in it! Just a warning though - I have a LOT to say on this subject, so this might be a long rambling post...

As you can see from these photos, I typically frame my work in pretty classic gold leaf frames, or black frames with a gold liner. Every once in a while I'll use a "silver" leafed frame on a painting that seems too cool for gold. All of the frames I use have finished corners - in other words, there is no seam showing in the corner of the frame as it has been filled in and leafed over. This is a pretty standard gallery requirement in this part of the country.

For this show, the majority of my frames came from JFM Enterprises and Omega Moulding. I buy wholesale from both of these suppliers, using my Colorado state tax ID number.

JFM carries a lot of fairly classic frames, and the prices are hard to beat. Since I live halfway across the country, I usually expect shipping to cost about half the price of the frames, and they still end up more affordable than most places that carry finished-corner frames. The frame I use from them is a gold frame that curves inward, with ribbing on the inside edge (seen on the three lower paintings in the top picture above). Though most landscape painters out West like to use "Plein Air" frames with a flat profile and ornamental edges, I find that the flat profile does nothing for my work. This frame looks fantastic on almost all of my paintings, and it always looks expensive hanging in a gallery. I used a couple of these when I showed my work at the Forbes Galleries in New York, and I had a number of collectors tell me that my frames looked better than most in the show. The only problem with JFM is that they are often out of stock when I call to order this particular frame, and sometimes the frames can be on backorder for quite a while. Otherwise, they've been good to deal with, and have often replaced frames that were damaged during shipping with no questions asked.

Omega is a big company that supplies moulding to (I would guess) most frame shops in the U.S. Although their big thing is moulding, they also have a small line of what they call "Gallery Frames" - these are their finished corner gold and silver leafed frames. There are quite a few people who supply these frames retail, but I prefer to buy from Omega since I can, and since it's easier to buy in bulk directly from them. I like their line of dark frames the most - unlike most black frames I've used, these have a finish that's virtually indestructable, which means a lot when you've been as frustrated as I've been at nicked frames. You can see one of their dark frames on the sunset painting in the picture below.

Another place I buy a lot of frames from is Manny's of Denver. Manny runs a frame warehouse here in Denver, and I like that I can stop by in person and pick up finished frames anytime that I'm in a crunch for time. I used to frame almost all of my paintings with one of Manny's "silver" plein air frames (for the record, I put silver in quotes because Manny's silver finish isn't really silver, it's more of a cool gold). I've stopped using these as much because my gallery in town doesn't like them (even though my paintings in them sold with no problem). You can see the silver frame on the second to left painting in the picture below. I also like Manny's dark frames - the sunset painting in the very top photo in the post is in a Manny's frame. I used to buy a lot of these, but I've had some problems with the black part chipping easily. Since the black finish is actually black over red, with the black rubbed down to show some of the red, it's next to impossible to fix one of these frames once it's chipped. For that reason, I've been trying to steer away from these - it's frustrating to have to replace a frame that you paid $100 for.

What I wish is that I could afford to use custom frames all of the time, but at this point in my career, I just can't afford the expense. As my prices increase, I'm hoping to use more custom made frames. My favorite custom framer, who I used for some of my paintings in the Forbes show, is Mountain Goat Frames. Mountain Goat is run by a local artist and her husband, and their frames are beautiful. I had them make me some dark frames with a gold liner for the show, and they were not only beautiful, but extremely high quality. Their dark finish is extremely durable, and stands up to a lot of beating without the chipping problems I've experienced from Manny's. And because the frames are custom, you can have them do the gold leaf finish in any tone you want. I'd recommend Mountain Goat Frames to anyone looking for a really high quality finish, and a frame that will make your painting look like it's worth every penny.

Last, but not least, I order all of my framing hardware in bulk online. I honestly don't know the name of the place I ordered from last, because the stuff lasts me so long. I always keep multiple sizes of offset clips and screws on hand in the studio so that I'm prepared when I need to get paintings out the door. Nate recently bought me an electric screwdriver, which might not sound like the most romantic gift, but quickly became my favorite gift ever after framing twenty paintings in two days!!

Anyone want to mention a framer you can't live without? I'd love to hear who people use and what their experiences have been.